When the Pittsburgh Steelers acquired Mike Mitchell from the Carolina Panthers, they saw a safety who was a hard-hitting player with ball skills to match his physicality. In 2014, the Steelers and their fans never saw that player at Heinz Field, or any other NFL stadium for that matter.
After the season ended, Mitchell made it clear he had been dealing with a groin injury the entire season, and although he wasn't sure if he would need surgery to repair the groin in the offseason, Mitchell told Will Graves of the AP he did in fact have surgery this offseason.
Mike Mitchell said he has offseason surgery to repair groin. Says he's pretty much good to go, tho there is pain occasionally #Steelers— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) May 26, 2015
Whether Mitchell's groin injury was the same injury he suffered before training camp last year isn't known, but the suggestion that the injury hindered his level of play could very well be the case. Many view players reporting injuries after a season as an excuse for poor play, but with Mitchell making his injury known he certainly won't be able to use the same crutch barring another injury to the groin in 2015.
Mitchell will be counted on heavily this season, and such a proposition is scary for many fans. Mitchell will likely anchor the safety position with a combination of other players vying for playing time at the safety position opposite him. Players like: Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Gerod Holliman and Isaiah Lewis.
There has been talk of Mitchell possibly changing safety positions to fill the vacated safety position of Troy Polamalu, but it is still entirely too early to tell if such a suggestion is even being discussed within the organization. Hopefully Mitchell's groin injury won't be a hindrance in 2015 and he will perform up to the fans', and his, standard next season.